An estimated 4 to 6 percent of children have food allergies, and the prevalence appears to be on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last month, a 13-year-old California girl died from a severe allergic reaction after biting into a camp treat made with peanut butter. It was dark, and the girl failed to realize the treat was made with peanuts, according to a Good Morning America story.

The girl spit out the treat and notified her mom, but it was too late. Within 20 minutes, the girl was vomiting and having difficulty breathing, according to the story.

The family used three EpiPens to try to stop the reaction, but the teen went into cardiac arrest. She was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, according to the GMA story.

The tragedy has led to discussions about ways to prevent – or at least try to prevent – fatal allergic reactions.

One thing some parents are adding to the back-to-school shopping list is warning labels that alert others to the child’s allergies.

One company, SafetyTat, offers temporary tattoos and long-lasting, write-on stickers. Another, Peanut Free Zone, also makes temporary allergy-alert tattoos. And AllerMates makes wristbands, stickers and dog tags that alert caregivers to allergies, according to a Yahoo! Shine article.



While the warning labels may help to prevent allergic reactions, some question whether the tattoos will open kids up to bullying.

“A lot of kids do get bullied at school about their food allergies, so there is some concern about whether this might give more ammunition to kids,” allergist Kevin McGrath told Yahoo.

To curb bullying, Slate recommended making the scarlet letter tattoos look more like real tattoos:

If kids are going to voluntarily wear them, allergy tattoos should be bigger and far less tasteful than SafetyTat’s offerings. How about a foot-wide chest tattoo, like Tupac’s “Thug Life,” only reading “Soy Death” instead? Or a very arty strawberry dripping with blood for your neck? Or a cartoon of Mr. Peanut throttling somebody? The vulgar possibilities are endless.

Would you put allergy-alert tattoos on your kids?

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

Scroll to top